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Enjoy Mediation Blog by Jeff Thompson
Metaphors are easily overlooked yet they possess an incredible amount of power. The use of metaphors during conflict can either help parties move towards resolution or compound differences and push the interaction further along the downward spiral of negative conflict.
Metaphors come in all shapes, colors, and sizes
For example, review the previous sentences and see how many metaphors you can catch (By the way,"catch" is another). In James Geary's "I is An Other", he describes metaphors as shedding light into a person's emotions, attitudes, and current perspective. If my opinion holds any weight, I highly recommend his book.
Consider when describing a conflict, does it:
As a tool for coaching, the client's metaphors give you an insight into their unique perception of their situation and their goals. When the client tells you that they can 'see light at the end of the tunnel', that is what they are experiencing. There is light for them, and they are in a tunnel. They will unconsciously 'know' much more about their situation from this metaphoric viewpoint. They are very likely to know in which direction the light is, how far away it is, and where the light comes from. They will know about the structure of the tunnel, how it feels and looks, how narrow the passage, and whereabouts they are in relation to the tunnel.
Jeff Thompson is a certified international mediator. He is also a law enforcement detective in New York. His law enforcement role include a being a communication and conflict specialist, interfaith dialogue, developing and implementing community engagement programs, and designing training workshops.
Jeff is currently a PhD candidate researching nonverbal communication and mediation at Griffith University Law School. He also received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Creighton University School of Law. Jeff has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally and has been published and featured with numerous international media organizations. He currently writes also at PsychologyToday.com.
(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions as a mediator and not that of any organization.)
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